Definition: Accessible Tourism
The ongoing endeavor to ensure tourist destinations, products and services are accessible to all people, regardless of their physical limitations, disabilities or age. It encompasses publicly and privately owned tourist locations. Accessible tourism enables people with access requirements, including mobility, vision, hearing and cognitive dimensions of access, to function independently and with equity and dignity through the delivery of universally designed tourism products, services and environments. This definition is inclusive of all people including those traveling with children in prams, people with disabilities and seniors - Defined by Darcy and Dickson (2009, p34)
The Disabled World disability travel section covers reviews of accessible tours, vacations, and cruises for persons with disabilities including wheelchair accessible accommodation reviews and articles about interesting places to visit and/or vacation around the world. Our holiday travel destinations are listed by continent, as seen in the right hand menu, and include travel tips for those traveling with disabilities and various health conditions.
Many of these travel articles have been written by Disabled World members who wanted to share their traveling experiences with other readers in the hope they will be of assistance to others with disabilities who may be thinking of traveling locally or abroad.
Accessible tourism is the ongoing endeavor to ensure tourist destinations, products and services are accessible to all people, regardless of their physical limitations, disabilities or age. It encompasses publicly and privately owned tourist locations.
Specific problems found by the disabled tourist when booking a holiday include:
- Lack of well-adapted hotel rooms
- Lack of accessible airport transfer
- Lack of wheelchair accessible vehicles
- Lack of accessible restaurants, bars, etc.
- Inaccessible, or only partly accessible, web sites
- Lack of adapted toilets in restaurants and public places
- Inaccessible streets (cars parking on the sidewalk, etc.)
- Lack of professional staff capable of informing and advising about accessibility issues
- Lack of disability equipment (wheelchairs, bath chairs, toilet raisers, electric scooters)
- Lack of reliable information about a specific attraction's level of accessibility (church, castle, exhibition, etc.)
Disability Travel Tips:
- Bicycle shops are great places for wheelchair replacement parts.
- Learn foreign vocabulary that can help you describe your situation and needs.
- Consider getting travel insurance. Make sure that it covers preexisting conditions.
- Bring plenty, even extra, of any medications that you take. Make sure that all medicines are allowed in the country you're visiting.
- Look for disability organizations or resources at your destination that can provide you with area-specific information as well as local contacts.
- If you use an electric wheelchair, look into whether you'll need a plug adapter and a voltage converter. Or see whether you can rent a battery charger abroad. Have a contingency plan in the event of power outages or voltage drops.
- Have a backup plan, including for your accommodations. In case your reserved accessible room isn't available, bring along items such as a portable ramp, a shower chair and a reacher to grab items that may be beyond arm's length.
- Know your rights. This is particularly important for airline travel, at the airport and on the plane. Familiarize yourself with applicable laws and airline regulations. Inform the airline of your situation and make assistance requests in advance.
- Understand cultural differences. You may get more, or less, attention in other countries than you would in the United States. Then again, Roth-Vinson says, you may stand out more as an American than as a wheelchair user or a blind person.
Further Travel Tips for People with Disabilities:
Resources and travel outfits that can help you plan a trip:
- American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), 800-275-2782, www.asta.org. Search for travel agents by specialty, including disability and accessible travel.
- Accessible Europe, 011-39-011-30-1888, www.accessibleurope.com. A group of travel agents headquartered in Italy who specialize in accessible tourism.
- The Guided Tour, 800-783-5841, www.guidedtour.com. Around since 1972, this company organizes trips for physically and developmentally challenged adults. A nurse often accompanies tours.
- Flying Wheels Travel, 877-451-5006, www.flyingwheelstravel.com. A full-service travel agency offering escorted tours and customized independent programs around the world for those with disabilities.
- Accessible Journeys, 800-846-4537, www.disabilitytravel.com. Caters to slow walkers and those in wheelchairs, offering cruises, tours and independent trips. Destinations include Africa, Asia and Europe.
- Road Scholar, 800-454-5768, www.roadscholar.org. Founded as Elderhostel in 1975, the educational-travel provider offers trips at various levels of activity, including "easy," which requires minimal walking and limited stairs.
- The National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability, 800-900-8086, www.ncpad.org. Hosted by the University of Alabama, the center has recreation resources on outdoor and travel activities throughout the country and abroad.
- The Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality, 212-447-7284, www.sath.org. A nonprofit membership organization providing a database of companies and resources that assist people with disabilities in all facets of travel, such as scooter rentals, tour operators and suggested reading.